hI’m back

It’s been some months since I last posted here. Not because I haven’t had anything to say, but because I have wanted to say anything. Maintaining a blog is hard work. Or it can be. Sufficiently hard enough in fact, that sometimes you just get the shits with it and want to pack the whole thing in, hit the delete button and send the whole damn thing off to cyberheaven.

But I didn’t. I left it alive. Or in a coma (yes, a coma is technically alive).

So why bother to post again? Because I have been inspired. When I started my original blog back in ‘aught nine, I want to document my journey to a)keep myself honest and b)hopefully, possibly, maybe inspire others. Over the last couple of years I’ve lost touch with that to some degree but on the weekend, I was inspired (or inspirated if you’re an MKR fan). Not by a race, but by a person. Not by anyone famous, but by this guy.


Now I’ve never met this guy before in my life, but he is my hero.

On the weekend this big guy completed the Geelong Long Distance Triathlon. That’s a 1.9km swim, a 90km ride and a half marathon run. And since I was doing it too, I got to see him. And without a single word or look of acknowledgement to my existence, he got me to the end. Just by being out there. Just by the sheer virtue of the fact that he was having a go. Just by the sheer fact that this big guy who was probably twice the size I have ever been was doing what I was thinking about packing in. I was hurting. My back ached and my nipples were bleeding (yes, I said nipples). I was being a sooky lala little bitch and then I saw this guy who I imagined was in a world of hurt deeper and more insane than anything I could conjure. And I stopped complaining. I stopped playing mind games with myself and just got on with it.

Because if that guy can do it. So can I.

Looking Back

Since my last post, not a lot has happened. Despite assurances (to myself), I slacked off and let my swimming and riding suffer over the winter. I kept up my running to some degree, but not as much as I’d have liked. Despite that, I managed to set a PB at the 2012 City2Surf, and then ran a sub 70 minute time for the 2012 City2Sea (the Melbourne sister event to the City2Surf). All I cared about in Melbourne was qualifying for the red start group for the 2013 City2Surf. And with a sub70 time, I did it (unless the organisers drop the qualifying time again, which they did in 2012).

Having achieved a running goal, I switched my focus back to triathlons with a goal to the Canberra Half Ironman in Dec 2012. As it turns out, I left it a little too late to register and I missed out on a place. In retrospect, I wasn’t ready and am now glad that I didn’t get a ticket to race.

My swimming is better now than it has ever been. By that, I mean that I am more comfortable in the water than I’ve ever been and I feel like I can do the distances I require of myself without too much issue. Speed in the water is a totally separate kettle of fish.

My bike is probably (at present) the weakest it has been for a while. I really really slacked off during the winter and when I did get back on, I came off. My first proper bike crash ever. I was in a rolling paceline, I got too close to the bike in front of me, and next thing gravel rash. That was in October and it took me a couple of weeks to get back on the bike again and another couple before I really stretched out.

Still I managed to get it together in some form, and entered my first ever Olympic distance tri (1.5/40/10). Which (due to one reason or another) was a big fat DNF.

2012 Goal

My major goal for 2012 was to complete a half ironman triathlon. An Mdot 70.3. A Long Course Tri. Call it what you will. Because I delayed, I missed out, proving that the old adage ‘you snooze, you lose’ still has some pull in the modern world.


As the new year hit, I pushed hard. I ran, I swam, I rode (“veni vedi velo”?) I clocked up a PB for the HM (1h52). I swam 2.5km for the first time ever. I started time trialling a 90km loop on the bike and began to get back to my best. And then bushfire season hit, and everything went to pot. It was 40°C+, strong winds, dry as. In those conditions, sensible people ride early morning or late evening. Unless of course, that is when you’re at work, in which case, you’re screwed.

Geelong Triathlon (aka Race Report)

Despite all the things that I saw as good excuses to pull out, last Saturday I ventured down to Geelong. Arriving in the afternoon, I racked my bike (a lone Apollo in a sea of Cervelos, Giants,Treks and Felts) and had a wander around the expo. Not having much of a budget, I passed on buying anything and checked in to my motel for the night. Nervous as, I sat down to watch a movie or two and have a quiet night in and an early night. At some point, I ducked out for some dinner (chicken, tomato and mushroom risotto). Eventually I tried to sleep, but I found myself a sweaty ball of nervous energy. My heart was racing. I started feeling nauseated. And just as I started to think I would be up all night, I crashed. I woke up four hours later. It was time to go.

I arrived, setup, suited up and got in the water. I was still nervous. I put my goggles on upside down, and couldn’t understand why they were letting in so much water when I had a warm up swim. Eventually I figured it out, with just enough time to get out and line up for the beach start.

Bang. Off. The swim went well. Sure I wasn’t the fastest and sure just about everyone passed me, but I didn’t disgrace myself. I mostly swam straight. For the most part I remembered to sight every 10-12 strokes as my coach told me to. I only strayed off course by a little bit, and I came out of the water in a shade over 46 minutes. Not earth shattering, but better than the 50minutes I’d been hoping for.

I transitioned fairly well. Slowly, but well, and I hit the bike leg confident. The course was nice. A couple of hills, some hairpins, flats and some wind that couldn’t decide which way it wanted to blow. Tailwind, crosswind, headwind – make up your f’in mind. After the first lap, I was about 5 minutes ahead of where I wanted to be and feeling very good. It didn’t last long. The wind/fatigue kicked up a notch on lap 2 and I slowly dropped back. I made the most of the course and picked up time where and when I could, but ultimately dropped back to just on behind my goal time. By the time I came into T2, I could feel the legs.

Strangely, bizarrely, I was right on track with my race plan. I’d said beforehand that I wanted to exit T2 in under 4 hours and here I was exiting T2 in 3hrs 56m. I was happy as Larry, but Larry is a prick and left me soon after that. Minutes after starting the run, I developed an ache in the back. I stopped and stretched. It went away, I started moving again and it came back. The faster I tried to go, the more it ached (almost painful), and so I slowed down. The more I slowed down, the further I fell, the more despondent I became and the more I started to doubt my own ability to finish. The mind games started (note: I’m shit at games and usually lose). I wasn’t far from giving in and then I saw that guy. If he can do it, I can do it. The pain in my back subsided. My legs were shot, so there was no chance of a speed increase, but I kept moving. Then the nips kicked in. For the first time since I started running in March 2009, my nipples chafed. So much so, that they bled. Here’s the proof.


Notice the blood. I still have scabs, FFS.

I thought the course was mildly tough, but the condition I was in made it tougher. If I had to do it again today I reckon I could go round in sub 2hrs, but on the day, the best I could manage was 2hr 28m, my slowest half marathon by over 20 minutes. At times, I reduced to a walk for a few metres here and there, and I stopped and stretched out more than once. But I did it. No thanks to the unholy 20% pinch 1500m from the end. A brutal and cruel sharply rising hairpin. But I did it.

I crossed the line nearly 25 minutes later than I’d hoped for, but I crossed the line. I finished, and I was proud and exhausted in equal measure.

I feasted on watermelon, hydrated, peed, hydrated again and collected my gear. After packing the car, and I stopped in at a café for coffee and some grub. I didn’t change my t-shirt. I wish I had. It wasn’t until after I finished my lunch that I realised I’d been bleeding. I knew I was sore, I didn’t know about the blood on my shirt. Fuck. I really wish someone had told me. I would have changed my shirt first.

After a lot of sleep, and a lot more food, I made it home. Now, a week later, I’m planning for my next half ironman. Shepparton or Canberra?

Two different runs

I’ve been getting back into my running lately. Obviously. This year I’m trying to find a couple of new runs to fill out the stable, and to allow me to mix it up a bit when I need to.

And I’ve found one that I’m calling the “Springvale Loop”, mostly because it’s a loop and it goes through Springvale.

The first couple of kms are the same as normal – out my street and left up the Parkway. From there, it’s down the hill to the round about and that is where it changes. If I take a left, I’m probably doing a short 6km run. Straight ahead and it’s either a 10km or 20km run with one or two hills. But if I turn right, there is little (2km) climb to the towards Bourkelands and from there it really opens up. There are half a dozen options, left or right that would be decent runs, or I can go straight ahead for some serious hills and distance.

For the Springvale loop, it’s the 2km climb over the hill and straight down for about 800m before a hard left. The left opens up into a beautiful part of Wagga – big, rural houses, wide open & quiet roads and a nice long downhill. By the time, the uphill starts again, another 5km has passed, we’ve left Springvale and we’re most of the way back to Red Hill. As we right onto Red Hill Road we’re at the foot of the 1km climb that peaks at 11% just before the apex. For me, it’s a tough climb at the moment, but I’m getting stronger.

From the peak, it’s comparatively easy – another downhill and one last slow gentle uphill before dropping down the Parkway and looping around to home.

I’ve run this loop twice now, but attempted it three times. The middle time, I twisted my ankle and hobble back home to rest my ankle for a day or two.

The first time I ran it, I covered it in 1h27m56s and it was my first 15km run of the year. Yesterday, my second 15km run of the year and I finished in 1h27m54s – a mere 2 seconds better. Despite that, they felt like very different runs.

The first time I ran it I was fairly consistent,  hovering around the 5m30s/km for the first 10km or so. I felt like I ran well up the first hill and maintain a steady pace throughout without pushing too hard on the downhill. I even went up and over Red Hill Rd in sub 6m, but from there I dropped back to closer to 6min/km for the last few kms. My final km was awful, at well over 8min/km (~7.5kph). I was spent at the end.

Yesterday, I took a much more measured approach. I reached the roundabout at the bottom of the hill about 15s earlier, but by the top I was 15s behind. On the downhill, my splits felt generally slower than the first run, but by the time I hit the bottom of Red Hill Rd, I was actually 15s ahead again! However, I took it easy up Red Hill and didn’t push and I felt this helped me leave some in the tank for the stretch home. Apparently not a lot though, because as my splits show it was only the last 1.7kms that were faster the second time around. Still, I felt strong at the end yesterday, and if I hadn’t been trying to get home by 4pm, I would have pushed for a Half Marathon.

My splits:

I’m going to do this run again on tomorrow, and I’ll be interested to see how the time compares.


Tomorrow sees the start of my marathon training program. It’s the same program I used (unsuccessfully) last year. There are a few differences this time around which I’m hoping will make it easier to see it through

1)  The program finishes before the City2Surf. Last year I was in great shape at the C2S thanks to the program but after a great run at the C2S, I lost a bit lot of motivation to keep going and by the time the marathon came around I was well and truly in trouble. The result was predictable

2) I’m in better shape at the start of the programme. At least I feel like I am. I’ve already got some half decent runs in and shouldn’t have any problems get through the first half of the programme.

3) I’m more aware of what the course involves having started it before. Forewarned is forearmed.

4) I’m already swimming well (subjectively) this year, which means I have should be able to get some good recovery. Last year I think it was Julyish before I started swimming and I wasn’t anywhere near good enough at it to use it as a recovery.

Fingers crossed.

Morning Runs

I’m a little annoyed at myself. I’ve skipped my morning run to work for the last two days for no really good reason. With my marathon training program starting tomorrow, I have to start being a lot stricter about my schedule.

To make up for what is now three days of slackness, I’m planning on a 15-20km run after work. I’ve cleared it with the wife and hopefully the girls haven’t been too painful during the morning and I’ll get to go out.

March Wrap-Up

It’s April Fools today which must mean that March is over, and like the old Dad joke, I know it’s been a long march because I’ve got sore feet (or rather, ankles).

Truth be told, I’m feeling like my ankle has recovered well from it’s minor twisting and I had hoped to get out for a run on it today but the rain and thunder has nix’d that idea. I’ll fire up the treadmill later and try and get an hour in.

March had a few successes, a big surprise and a couple of small disappointments.

My goals for this month were:

1. To complete the 165km Scody High County Cycle Challenge Ride. This was a success. I not only finished but managed the ascent with zero stops which I am absolutely over the moon about.

2. To ride at least 500km this month. OK, I fell down a bit here. I should have had a more consistent first half of the month since I knew I was going to ease off after the SHCCC in mid-March. Still I covered 300km, which isn’t disgraceful.

3. To run at least 50km this month including at least one 10km and one 15km run. Success, but only just. A couple of my runs were awful and I really could have covered many more kms. I knocked off the 10km and 15km runs pretty early on in the month and then really eased off in the latter half.

4. To swim at least 10km this month. Err…no. The biggest disappointment of the month was my lack of swimming. I only made it out to the pool once this month and then for a measly 1.4kms which was tiring. Swim fitness is currently zero, but at least I didn’t have any of the breathing issues I had when I started swimming properly last year.

Monthly Ride Stats Monthly Run Stats
Count:   7 Activities
Distance: 306.87 km
Elevation Gain: 3,285 m
Avg Distance: 43.84 km
Time: 11:18:32 h:m:s
Avg Speed: 27.1 km/h
Count: 7 Activities
Distance: 53.44 km
Elevation Gain: 253 m
Avg Distance: 7.63 km
Time: 5:04:58 h:m:s
Avg Speed: 10.5 km/h

So, work-wise not great. Less than one activity every two days. I am really going to have to do better.

2012 Scody High Country Challenge (165km)

Last weekend I took part in the SHCCC, my first. It was actually the very first serious hill ride that I wanted to do, but instead that honour went to the 2011 Audax Alpine Classic.

This January, I also attempted the Alpine Classic, and for the second time straight, I failed. I was gutted after the ride swearing that I was not a climber and that I was never going to climb again. On the drive home, I calmed down, balanced myself and started to reassess. By the time I got home, I’d convinced myself that if I could do the climb at the beginning of a ride I’d be fine. It was only with 100km under my belt that major hills bested me.

So I entered the SHCCC. The climb up Mt Buller is the first real climb of the ride and starts around the 30km mark and is either a Category 1 or HC category climb, depending on your source.

Last Friday and the time had come. I packed and headed down to Mansfield, a 3½hr drive. I arrived in Mansfield about 4pm and easily found the caravan park I was staying at. It had poured all the way down and I was relieved that it started to clear up about half an hour out of town. As I unpacked the car, I realised two things: 1) it was cold, and the night was only going to get colder and 2) I’d left my blanket at home. I’d have to buy another, but with nothing resembling a department store in town, I had to drive a little over an hour to the nearest Kmart. In all, by the time I rolled back into town again it was pushing 7pm and I was beat.

I grabbed some dinner and hit the sack. Thanks to an 8.30am start, I was able to sleep in until 6.30. the last couple of major rides I’d done had required 5am starts, so this was bliss. By 8 I was at the start line, and ready to go. I had my map, my timing sheet and my plan.

My plan was essentially the same as it was for the Lake Hume CC. Stick with the pack as long as possible and then catch up with them again at the top.

It started off well and I stayed with the pack for the first 20km or so. Averaging a little over 30km an hour was a great start, but for me it proved impossible to maintain. Over the next half hour, we climbed towards the toll booth that marked the start of the climb and I was trying to balance my effort – not too hard, but don’t back off too much. I was only a little behind schedule and if I avoided the water stops and climbed well I could still make the top by 10.45am. As we hit the toll booth, I was about 4min off my goal time, but feeling pretty good. I hadn’t pushed and I knew that I’d make up a lot of time on the homeward runs. I’d planned on a 12kph climb but it was all guess work. I had absolutely no idea what was ahead of me or how I’d do. I’d failed at every attempt to do a Cat 1 or better climb. Rather than outline the climb, I’ll just lean on the words of theclimbingcyclist. His excellent description of the climb is here.

I didn’t mind the climb. Yes it was long and at times hard but for the most part I enjoyed it. I always felt like I was making progress. That’s what really ground me down during the Audax Classic. With Mt Buffalo, I never felt like I was making any progress, and it was soul destroying. With Buller, I always felt like I was chipping away, and the blue progress markers on the side really helped.

I ground away, eager to see the 10km to go sign. Once I saw that I felt like I was really counting down to the finish. I danced with a couple of riders at times and we encouraged each other along. I’d pass someone and he’d kick a minute later and pass me, and so on. We carried it on for a good portion of the climb but by the time we reached Hell Corner we split. The 13% climbs really tested me by this stage and I was constantly shifting from sitting to standing just to keep going. I kept thinking how cruel it was for the hardest, steepest part of the climb to be at the top. But I kept going and even managed a fist pump or two at the top. And then it got weird.

First, I’d climbed at just under 12kph. My plan had been to average 12kph, and the fact that I was so close was just plain weird. My official climb time was 1h22m38s, or 11.97kph. Freaky

Weirdness no. 2: At the top of the climb we just stopped. The road was barricaded to force us off the bikes while they removed our timing chips for the KOM/QOM. There was no option to keep going or to turn around. You had to get off and walk through the pitstop. Once there, I wasn’t even sure where the exit was to get riding again. Surely it makes more sense to have a timing mat at the top and collect the timing tags at the bottom. What if I didn’t want to stop? If I was doing the hundred I would have preferred to go non-stop.

As it happens, I appreciated the chance to rest. I’d done the climb without stopping and I was elated but tired. I took the opportunity to eat, drink, stretch and pee. In the end I only stopped for about 15mins before heading off to find some road again. Judging by the scene at the top, some people were settling in for an extended break.

I’d reached the summit 14 minutes behind my schedule and I was keen to get going. The descent was fantastic. I love descending but am always careful to stay in control. I stayed below 60kph all the way down, and just loved rolling through some of the sweeping downhill curves. Once the true descent had finished, I pushed hard to keep the momentum up. It dropped off at times, but considering I covered the 40km from the summit to the Jamieson turn off in just over an hour I’d say that I did ok. It could have been better, but a few kms before the Jamieson turnoff, the wind picked up. As I turned off, it occurred to me that I was 50min ahead off the cut-off time. Considering some people looked set in for a very leisurely lunch at the top, I suspect a few people had to fly to get around the corner in time.

As I turned, the wind that had been coming from the left was now directly in my face. Straight on and strong, and at pretty much that point I hit a wall. I struggled to keep going over the next couple of kms and very soon found myself pulled over having another stretch. I was just on 100kms and seriously contemplating turning around and heading back to Jamieson. The climb was done and that had been my main goal. But I knew that if I didn’t try to keep going I’d hate myself. So I took some gel on board, fuelled up, stretched out and went on, planning to re-evaluate at the Piries water stop.

The next section was probably the hardest of the day. It was mentally draining pushing against the wind, and I fell into the old habit of watching the speedo and counting the kms. Thankfully, by the time I reached the water stop, my legs were feeling better. The chatter was all about the wind and I was grateful to hear so many others were finding it tough work into the wind. Remarkably, I’d only lost 2 more minutes in the last section, but with the hills for this section still to come, I knew that I’d be rapidly falling away.

At Piries, I decided to keep going, and I’m glad I did. The hills felt a lot harder than they should have, but I dropped down to 34/28 and spun away. I was carrying three gels and three bottles and I drained most of it in that 35km stretch out to Jamieson.

By the time I rolled in, I’d been passed by about 50 people but I didn’t care. I’d made to the turnaround point and I was glad I hadn’t quit. I was now 35km from home and just on my planned finish time but I didn’t care. I ate, drank, stretched and peed again and I was on my way. Another short stop, perhaps 10 mins. Once again, most people looked to be settling in for a lengthy stop.

I’d been counting the people who came into Jamieson after me, and as I headed out I counted some more. I figure at least 50 people rolled into town Jamieson after me, and at least another 100 where still there. I’d heard that a fair few people had missed the 1pm cut-off.

The ride back was a totally different story. I was mentally recharged and raring to go. Knowing that the majority of the return leg to Mansfield would be down with a tailwind gave me a boost. I knocked off the first two hills fairly easily (not quickly, but easily), but the third one really hurt. The sustained 5% bit me hard and I had to pull over a couple of times for a breather. About 200m from the top, a guy passed me, pulled in front and then promptly leant over the side of his bike and started puking. I checked he was ok, but his mate was right behind me and them. One still puking, one looking concerned. As I crested, I breathed a sigh of relief. It was virtually all downhill from here (literally and figuratively). Compared to the trip in the opposite direction, I flew. I had the wind behind me and I got to enjoy the ride again. No one passed me, and I started working at closing the gap on those in front (I caught the couple in the distance with about a km to spare). About 10mins after I crested Martin’s Gap, I heard an ambulance screaming towards me. I guess the guy puking didn’t recover. I hope he’s ok.

I was glad to finish, and absolutely chuffed to have completed the whole ride. I was proud for having continued on.

My ride details are on Garmin and Strava

With that, my ride season is over. I’m still going to be riding, but it’ll be about maintenance rather than improvement. It’s time to focus on my running and swimming again. The Half Ironman is only 8 months away and there’s a marathon to be had between now and then.

Why I don’t run with headphones

A few days ago, I ran my first 10km of the year. It hurt a bit but I hadn’t really pushed it. At the end, I’d come home at a little under 10kph average. Pathetic and well below my self imposed 10.55kph lower limit (10.55kph=2hr HM). Whatever I tried on the day I couldn’t seem to push enough to get my speed up once it had dropped off.

I was however, happy. Simultaneously, I was annoyed. Happy to have clocked up the distance but annoed at how much fitness I’d let myself lose.

So after a couple of days r’n’r (and let’s be honest – I need it, my legs were seriously stiff the day after), I decided to have another run. Today however, I was moving forward and pushing for 15km. It’s one of my stated goals for this month and I like to try and knock them off nice and early (although I rarely do).

So fifteen at better than the minimum speed. I planned out a course that had a few minor hills. Nothing drastic, but I knew that in my present shape they’d test me.

So this morning, with no breakfast and no fluids I set off. I started out easy, conscious not to go out too hard. By the top of the first little hill I was 30s off my best, but doing ok. I was paying careful attention to the feel of the run. In half a click I’d run past theback of my house and could end it there if my legs were screaming to stop. They weren’t and I was feeling good. In fact, I’d almost say that I was in “the zone”.

At the end of the first downhill section, I hooked right and across the road. A fourway intersection, I needed to cross twice. the first crossing as fine but the second not so much. Despite checking twice, I managed to run straight into an oncoming car.

Well, almost.

I picked it up in my peripheral vision about the same time that I heard it. I’m not sure which kicked in first. If I’d had headphones in, I may well have taken a couple more steps and the ending would probably have been very different. As it happens, I stopped with inches to spare. Running without headphones saved my life. Possibly.

I crossed safely and made my way up the next hill. At the peak I had to stop and check the map. I knew I needed to make a left hand turn, but I couldn’t remember which left it was. Thanks to smartphones and google maps, I was soon back on track. Heading down the other side, I got  some speed up and managed (mostly) to hold onto it for the next few kms. I was actually feeling pretty good despite my current lack of stamina and strength. By the time I approached the 10km mark, I was ahead of schedule.

It’s lucky I had a little time up my sleeve because the next climb took its toll. I made it up ok, but by the time I’d crested I’d chewed up a lot of energy and was dancing on the edge of fatigue. I knew I’d accelerate downhill, but I also knew that I no longer had the legs to push.

By the time I came to the fourth little climb I was spent and slowing with every step. I was on the home stretch and watching the distance on the garmin click over. I was glad to pass the goal marker but didn’t have the energy to be euphoric.

In the end, I came home in a shade under 1h28m for the 15.77km. My longest run for the year in terms of both distance and time.

I’m planning a few short sharp 5kms runs over the next few days and then I’ve got the SHCCC. After that, I think I might look to taking a stab at another HM towards the end of the month.